Intranasal administration of an anti-inflammatory drug helped reduce disease progression in a preclinical model of multiple sclerosis, according to researchers from University of Alberta, published in Glia.

Christopher Power, professor in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, and Leina Saito, a graduate student on his team, suggest that delivering an anti-inflammatory drug to mice helped prevent damage to brain cells, effectively slowing the progression of the disease.

“Nerves in the brain are like insulated wires, but in MS there is initially a loss of the insulation [called myelin], and then the eventual loss of the wire. Those losses are caused by inflammation. That inflammation, which we think is the driving force for MS, is our main research interest.”

— Christopher Power, a neurologist in the Northern Alberta MS Clinic, co-director of the U of A’s MS Centre and member of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute

VX-765 ID’d as a Strong Candidate

Power’s lab identified a drug called VX-765 as a strong candidate therapy for MS patients. The drug works by inhibiting caspase-1, a component of inflammasomes that promotes harmful inflammation in the body. In previous research, Power’s group saw beneficial results by delivering insulin intranasally in other models of brain inflammation, and he decided to go with that delivery route again. Using mouse models, Power dissolved VX-765 in a fluid and then injected the mixture into the nose, a media release from University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry explains.

“It’s a lot easier for patients because you need less of the drug. It’s a direct delivery into the brain, it doesn’t go into the circulatory system and it’s not broken down as quickly,” Power adds.

To examine the impact of VX-765 on the nerves, Power collaborated with researcher Frank Wuest, interim chair in the U of A’s Department of Oncology and member of the Cancer Research Institute of Northern Alberta.

Wuest is knowledgeable about positron emission tomography (PET) scanning, an imaging technique that uses radioactive substances to visualize changes in the body. Wuest used PET scans to look at brain metabolism and was able to document whether the insulation had been stripped or not after the therapeutic was delivered, the release continues.

“The study shows intranasal therapy is effective in preventing demyelination and axon injury and loss, so that’s a real tonic for us to keep going.

“The loss of myelin and loss of nerves are irreversible processes, so any therapeutic that helps to slow or prevent that from happening is an exciting advance for MS research. The particular delivery method also allows the therapy to be delivered in a more precise and targeted way.”

— Christopher Power

[Source(s): University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, Science Daily]

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